Oakland gets its crime data feed on

You may not have heard about this yet, which is a shame.  It’s a shame because it’s a rare good thing in local government tech, because it’s a serious milestone for our city hall and because our local government isn’t yet facile with telling our community about the awesome things that do happen in Oakland’s city hall. But I’m excited, and I’m impressed that we’ve gotten here- Oakland’s crime report data is now being published daily, automatically, to the web, freely available for all.

This is quite a leap forward to where we were several years ago and in fact just year ago to be honest: spreadsheet hell. Often photocopied spreadsheet hell. Things happen slowly, but some things we’ve pushed for because we recognize their potential to change the game forever. First we pushed for opendata as a policy in the city, and we got there quick enough, but we’re now waiting in expectation for our new CIO Bryan Sastokas to publish the city’s very crucial open data implementation plan.  Then we started pushing public records into the open with the excellent RecordTrac app that makes all public information requests public unless related to sensitive crime info. And now with local developers soaking up the public data available we have the first ever Oakland crime feed and an API to boot!

The API isn’t actually something the city built, it’s a significant side benefit of their Socrata data platform- just publish data in close to real time and their system will give you a tidy API to make it discoverable and connectable.You can access their API here:

http://data.oaklandnet.com/resource/ym6k-rx7a.json

If you’re more of an analyst or a journo or a citizen scientist you may want the data in bulk, which you can grab here.  That link will get you to a file that is updated on a daily basis- pretty rad huh. Given how crime reports tend to trickle in- some get reported days after, some months, some get adjusted, the data will change over time- the only way to build a complete, perfect dataset is to constantly review for changes, update, replace etc- a very complicated task.  If you want a bulk chunk of data covering multiple years, with many richer fields and much higher quality geocoding you can grab what we’ve published at http://newdata.openoakland.org/dataset/crime-reports (covers 2003 to 2013) and for the more recent historic version you can use this file: http://newdata.openoakland.org/dataset/oakland-crime-data-2007-2014

Now that we’ve figured out how to pump crime report data out of the city firewall, we can get to work connecting it to oakland.crimespotting.org and building dashboards to support community groups, city staff and more!

So thank you to the city staff who worked to get this done- now let’s get hacking!

Side bar- Oakland has finally gotten hold of it’s new Twitter handle: @Oakland is now online! More progress…

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